VB reader and contributor, Richard Heath shares his views on supermarket self service checkouts. Ed
So, as all things in common life, it started off with a trip to Tesco after work. All I had was four items of shopping, and after walking through the streams of queues (mainly consisting of families doing the weekly shop) I suddenly found myself at the end of the checkout lines.
What stood before me was a rather scary sight.
A zoo like pen, consisting of a huddle of shoppers, walking around with a sense of confusion, pressing buttons, frowning, furious barcode scanning, people waving for help, an assistant looking rather flustered, flashing lights, someone looking up and down a machine with their credit card pushing it in every slot they could see, I had found myself stood in-front of the self service checkouts.
It’s at this moment I turn back and walk back to the ‘normal’ checkouts, nearly reaching my goal I was suddenly stopped by a shop assistant who then re-directed me BACK towards the self service checkout. After taking a deep breath I join the one-person queue (consisting of a woman who looked just as apprehensive as me).
Stepping into the zoo pen
The inevitable moment happened, a checkout became available and it was my turn to step up to the mark. I entered the zoo pen (A part of me was expecting/wanting David Attenborough to start commentating over the public address system)
After progressing through the on-screen prompts I began to scan my items. Item number one – scanned, placed in carrier bag .. item number two – scanned, placed in carrier bag … item number three – scanned, placed in carrier bag … however, item number four decided (in its wisdom) that it was going to give me some aggravation. Setting off a red light above the checkout with a message on the screen that may as well translated as – ‘This guy doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, please wait for assistance’.
What’s causing the problem?
It’s at this point I should add that ‘item number four’ was a well known brand of contraception.
A lady in uniform walked over (an employee, not the police) and after tapping a few buttons whilst profusely sighing, she told me to carry on with my scanning.
Item number four wasn’t content with letting me get away with it that easily though “¦ as I went to scan it again, the red light illuminated and the same message came on the screen.
Hot and awkward
It’s at this point that I begin to feel a bit hot with what I’m sure was accompanied by a few beads of sweat over my forehead. The assistant came storming over once more, and judging by the increased viscousness of button tapping, was getting rather tired of me.
“Carry on SIR!” .. and I did, as quickly as I could.
Item number four now successfully scanned through! Now for payment.
My first mistake was opting to pay by cash. It seems that machines aren’t as fond to taking money as humans are. I insert a £20 note, machine spits it back out. I turn over and flatten £20 note and the machine spits it back out. Repeated process another five times, before giving up and payed by debit card instead.
The process was complete and I hurried back to the car.
Where’s the upside?
Perhaps I just had a bad experience in the whole scheme of things, but to be honest, I do truly think that I should at least have some money deducted from my bill if I’m to do the work of a checkout employee. I should now be able to put on my rÃ©sumÃ© that I have experience with being a checkout operator.
It wasn’t any quicker and I was doing someone else’s work for free.
I’d rather go through a human operated checkout any day. A much more personal experience, even if it does mean having to stand through the odd awkward conversation.
On a lighter note, I’m glad on this occasion that I didn’t have to use a shopping trolley. Those things ALWAYS run out of control when being pushed by me.